Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li
liralen

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A Mini-Vacation

So this week was the week of Jet's Spring Break and on the most part we were just home and putzing about and doing the usual things, and then on Monday Jet said at dinner time, "You know, if we're going on a trip during the vacation, we should probably plan it now."



I had an appointment Tuesday afternoon. John had a meeting Thursday morning, so we planned, packed, and then I went nuts on Tuesday morning.

My brain finally exploded after nearly two weeks down time with my cold, and I had a stack of index cards that I filled with all the things I had to do. Like make green-chili turkey sausage from the ground turkey I'd had John buy, transplant all the tomato seedlings to pots, get my Dad a birthday present, check with the Odyssey of the Mind folks as the 3rd graders had made it to the state competitions so I have to go judge, and then John went and planned a road trip for the beginning of the summer from here to Northern Cal and then down through to Southern Cal and I thought it would be good to warn folks of when we were going to be where, not to mention that we might hit Vermont again this coming summer as part of a memorial for John's uncle, who did die last Sunday.

Uhm. Yeah. I feel better now. The cold is gone. The really amazing thing was that Tuesday the weather here flipped to summer and we had 78° (25° C) by mid-day. The seedlings had a hard time with the transplant and the sunshine, and looked half wilted by the time I'd done the first tray, but by the second tray I put the done ones in the shade, and they did much better. I, on the other hand, realized I was about to sunburn and got my sun hat on.

As a note to myself, bleaching the seeding trays is a MUST from now on. The last two years, when I used the trays I was getting maybe a 1/3rd of the seeds to start, the first two years I owned them I was getting about 100% yield. After bleaching them this year, I got 100% yield again, even when I put two or (by accident) four seeds into a single cell. With the 12-cell system I ended up with 18 of each type of plant, Sun Golds (hybrid gold cherry tomato) and Black Krimms (heirloom black fast bearer that I started from the seeds of a fruit from last year). I'm almost sad I didn't start more, as we got some extra lamps, put florescent bulbs in them, and are running the bulbs 16 hours a day and the plants are SO much sturdier than ever before, too.

The sugar snap peas were out, and the spinach, radishes, and lettuce I planted a few weeks back are now all showing, under the snow from last week. It all melted on Tuesday, but it's amazing to have 70+ and snow still on the ground.

After all that, I had my massage therapy appointment, and as soon as I got home, we hopped into the Passat and headed north to Forth Collins. It's only about a 40 minute drive north and it's a little college town with a beautiful little old town with lots of shops and stores and restaurants. We drive through it all the time as we're going to the Rocky Mountain National park, and we love to stop there for a meal or two when we go through, but I really wanted to explore it for once.

So we got a room at a Super 8 for the night, drove into town, and at the edge, we parked the Passat and got out right at Jerry's Artarama. I've been looking, online, at really lightweight bookmaking equipment, an awl and bit of heavier duty paperboard for cover cores. I want to make lightweight drawing/writing journals with my paintings for covers, just for my own sake if not for sale. For less than $9 I got both. *laughs* The three of us also happily wandered the store just marveling at all the art things.

Next door was Daily Fiber, a wool, fiber arts, yarn shop that had a resident expert in Russian lace shawls. *laughs* It was fun to see them there. They're a lot like Shetland shawls (the ring shawls are handspun wool and can go through a wedding ring) in basic stitch variation and construction and are beautiful and lightweight and extra warm when knit with cashmere. Goodness... cashmere... It was really lux.

The counter lady wasn't particularly experienced, and she was so happy she was able to do lace. She also was amazed when I turned down a little card with a cheat sheet for Kitchener Stitch as I really don't need it. I graft toes for socks so often, and it's so much just the way knit stitches are *made* that I mostly just follow the structure of the stitch, so I can do it in purl as well as knit; but... it was funny how much that impressed her. The one thing I really wanted in the store was some of the locally grown, processed, and spun Cormo, it was so soft and lofty and would make lovely hats and collars, but it's not like I need more yarn now.

From there we headed into town, passing by all kinds of neat little stores, a build-your-own burger place with sweet potato fries, a place that only sold gelato, and then into The Cupboard, which looked like a little kitchen shop that turned into a very long, huge ktichen shop with some really amazing things. The Peppercorn in Boulder is like that, five burr grinders, eight egg separators, a dozen ways to serve honey, four kinds of soft-boiled egg spoons, twenty types of espresso cups, shelves and shelves of cookbooks, cookware of all shapes and sizes, three different double-boilers, eight manufacturers of knifes, etc. All that plus shelves and shelves and shelves of hard to find foods.

The thing that struck me the most, though, were these double-walled ceramic cups with silicon lids that looked exactly like an espresso stand paper cup. It only held 10 ounces, but I like my drinks short, on the most part, and it was such a lovely sight and feel gag, as it looks exactly like the paper cup until you pick it up and it's matte ceramic. It's also dishwasher safe! I have a lot of double-walled steel cups, but they lose heat when I'm out in 10° weather just from the edges. So this might be better for that. We'll see. I just liked it enough to buy it. *laughs*

Jet was pretty hungry by that time, so we kept going and found a brew pub with a nice selection of beers and their own homebrewed root beer, ginger ale, and cream soda. They had excellent onion rings as a starter. Jet got a grilled cheese sandwich made from thick slabs of bread with butter toasted through and nice wedge fries. John got a smoked salmon salad with Gorgonzola dressing. I had the Highland Shepherd's Pie with wonderful mashed, parmesian shavings on top, good veg, and Colorado lamb as the meat for it. That was really nice.

I felt like rolling back to the car, though, when I was done, as I was so full, and most of the shops closed at 6. It's a little town. The one thing that was open was a little ice cream shop that served, of all things, Blue Bell ice cream. One of our friends, Don, from church, is a true Southern Gentleman, and one of his indulgences when we go south to work on the Gulf Coast, is Blue Bell ice cream. We even bought two half gallons for the one dinner the crew cooked. It's a Texas institution of nearly 150 years, and so we now know the name, so we had to stop and each get a single scoop.

It was a perfect ending to the day. We walked the rest of the way back to the car, even as the winds picked up and the day grew cool again... and headed back to the hotel. We used their hot tub and went to sleep soon after.

Tamale and Eggs
In the morning, we stopped for breakfast at the Silver Grill, which was at the far side of the old town area, and it was well worth it. John got the tamale and eggs, while Jet got a big pancake with whipped cream. I got their Biscuit short cut, which was just one biscuit with gravy, one egg, and one piece of patty sausage, it was just right for me. About half the size of the usual American diner breakfast, it was plenty for me. The coffee was so good I had two mugs of it.

From there we wandered a little ways along the stores that had been closed the night before. One of the more locally famous places was the Perennial Gardner, as our local NPR stations have the owner on the show nearly every morning about what to do with Colorado gardening needs. Problem was that when we went in, it was just all accessories and stuff, no real *planting* things. It was garden gnomes, fountains, little knick knacks, perfumes, spa stuff, and soap? Oh well. Beautiful stuff, but none of it had anything to do with standing in the sun for an hour getting my seedlings into shape.

I managed to get a smooth silver chain for my Malakim pendant, as the old chain had broken. The Santa Fe artisans shop had gorgeous silver work.

After that we piled back into the car and headed for the outlet mall a little further south, and stopped at Harry and Davids for two pears and a few small things. They sell singles of their famous pears now! Given I can't eat a whole box of 'em, just getting two satisfies my craving for them and I waste none. I also found a pair of sweatpants at the Nike outlet on clearance, about 1/4 the original price. I like that.

There was a mall just across the freeway that had a new movie theater in it as well, and they were playing "How to Train Your Dragon", which Jet had expressed interest in seeing. It turned out that the next show time was in 10 minutes, so we went.

It was *great*! We all really enjoyed it, enjoyed the animation, the action, and especially the characters. All of us loved the protagonist, and the dragons were beautifully rendered. I loved the personalities in all the various types, and it was really funny to have everyone who were supposed to be Vikings actually having Scottish accents. All right, having Craig Ferguson as one of the major cast members probably helped that transition along. *laughs*

I highly recommend it.

We glanced by a Popeye's on the way home, for fried chicken and biscuits for lunch, and then got home and Jet and I indulged in video games, and then I made teriyaki chicken for dinner with a short grain rice. Then I got a chance to download pictures and stuff.

Cherry Doodle
One of the things I was doing in the hotel while just existing was doodling cherry blossoms on 3x5 index cards as aruarian_dancer and I had had a long discussion about the difference between cherries and plum blossoms. I'm now gradually going through my galleries and changing all the things I said "cherry" to "plum", as the biggest difference lies in the aspect of the "stems" of the cherries to that of plums.

Uhm... right. I've always held that I can't draw, but look, me drawing! I guess I've studied similar things enough times that I can now just draw something approximating a plant if I really see it, now. This was done with a fountain pen in Big Black Moccasin ink on a 3x5 card. I might color it.

As you can see from this little drawing, there are sprays of cherry blossoms, that are grouped together, but they all have their own little stem. It changes the whole dynamic, or, in the parlance of the books, the "gesture" of the blossoms and branch. They bend and sway, each on their own, the the grace of the overall branch is like woah compared to the plums where the blossom is right on the branch as the fruit is right on the branch, usually.

For the Chinese, the plum is the spring flower, really. It's the first bloom in the snow, and the beauty and fragrance are their own. I like doing the plum as "Li" means plum, and it's fairly symbolic for me; however, now I see more of the fascination of the Japanese for the sakura blossom and why it's actually quite different than the plum.

So I'm now a little obsessed. *laughs* I need to do more of these.

Anyway... it's now pretty late and I should close this up. Suffice it to say that it was a very satisfying little vacation.
Tags: food, gardening, movie, painting, travel
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